Looks like I may – FINALLY – be getting back to writing reviews, readers. At the very least, I seem to be able to read rather than feel too tired to crack open a book. Let us hope it lasts….
But enough complaining – there is nothing to be gained there. We have a fun adventure before us, one I have wanted to talk about for some time. Readers, allow me to introduce you to Perseus Corbett and the Forbidden Valley*!
It all started with a kiss…
When Perseus Corbett shared his first kiss with young Elizabeth Alban, daughter of Lord Darrow, he vowed that, impossible though it seemed, he would someday become rich enough to marry her. But after many years, a World War, and a hundred adventures chasing treasure in every corner of globe, he finds himself no nearer to his goal.
Then, one night, a dying old man thrusts a tattered manuscript into his hands. It tells of a place deep in the Amazon jungle – a place known to legend as both the treasure house of the gods and an abode of monsters.
Seizing this seemingly final chance, Perseus gathers a small expedition – including Elizabeth herself – to find this lost world. Together they travel into the unknown, facing ever greater wonders and more fearsome dangers. Facing too their own hearts and souls, their regrets and resentments laid bare in the untamed wilds.
But what secrets await them at their journey’s end? Who else covets the treasures of the gods?
And will any of the expedition return, or will they be consumed by the perils of this Forbidden Valley?
I was privileged to beta read this book, and it is just as good on a second reading as on the first! The novel is a great deal of fun, and even though I knew what was coming, reading it once more was like ordering your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant. It was just a pleasure to follow along with the story and get wrapped up in it, making it easy to forget the outside world for a time.
Sent to Sangral House in the countryside to improve his health, twelve-year-old Perseus Corbett has been apprenticed to his uncle as an undergardener, since the air pollution in London has weakened his lungs. While working in the flower beds one day, a shiny something falls from a window high above in the manor. Naturally, Perseus goes to pick it up, finding it is a medal of some kind.
A girl calls out from the window, asking him to bring the medal up to her. Maneuvering around the severe butler, Perseus does just that, though it leaves him gasping. This is how he makes the acquaintance of Elizabeth Alban, the daughter of Baron Darrow.
In the vein of The Secret Garden*, Perseus and Elizabeth become fast friends. They play outside and have all sorts of fun during the intervening two years, spending time reading in the library or looking over the artefacts in the manor. While Baron Darrow is quite happy to have Perseus around and not at all displeased by his daughter’s friendship with him, his wife is less enthused. When Perseus is fourteen, Baroness Darrow has his father call him home to London. After all, you can’t have the daughter of a Baron running about and possibly falling in love with the gardener’s nephew. What a scandal that would be!
The two forlorn children spend their final day sitting together and talking. As a final good-bye, Elizabeth gifts Perseus with the medal he retrieved for her: a medal given to her ancestor for a great service rendered to King Charles I. While thrilled with the gift, Perseus laments that he has nothing of equal value to give her. Cue the awkward yet utterly adorable first kiss that leads Perseus to make a decision: he is going to become a gentleman.
And then he is going to marry Elizabeth.
The years pass, however, and Perseus finds himself no closer to his goal. He picks up a good friend in Martin Halritter, once a valet to a now deceased Austrian count, who is perfectly correct in recognizing that Perseus is already a gentleman. The young man simply lacks the funds and trappings most possess, and though Martin believes he does not really need them to achieve his desire, he is perfectly prepared to follow Perseus on his travels and do his best to help him reach his goal.
When they end up in Istanbul after rescuing some innocents and sending them to safety, he prepares yet again to embark with Perseus on another adventure. Said adventure begins Treasure Island* style, with a tattered manuscript pressed into Perseus’ hands by a dying man. Reading through the manuscript, he finds it promises immense wealth hidden in an isolated part of the Amazon. If he can reach it and enter “the Treasure House of the Gods,” then he can marry his one true love at last!
Of course, the problem now is to get there. Down to their last few pounds, Perseus and Martin have only one choice. They have to go back to England, which Perseus has avoided in his travels. He has also refused to read British newspapers or hear any news out of it. The last thing he wants to know is if Elizabeth is married to someone she hates – or to someone she loves more than him.
While on the voyage to England, he and Martin discuss the book. It could be a hoax, or even the ramblings of a crazy man. The fellow who passed it to Perseus was an elderly man and drunk, so it is possible this is a wild goose chase. Perseus is desperate enough to want to pursue it anyway, but it is not looking like the best option on the planet.
Then a man threatens to kill him if he won’t sell or hand over the book, and suddenly the contents do not seem so far-fetched. Someone certainly believes the fabled Forbidden Valley is real, and they quite are willing to pay or kill to get the book.
Clearly, this changes the water on the beans substantially. Martin and Perseus decide they can’t tell anyone about the book just yet as it might put innocent people at risk if they do. If they want funding for their adventure, they are going to have to be sneaky about it, and that means they can’t go to archaeologists or their usual contacts for a bank roll. They will have to see if the Natural History Museum will be interested in documenting the wildlife in a specific part of the Amazon, and mention the book later…when the expedition can’t turn back because it will be a waste of a trip.
Devious, yes, but what else can they really do? Being honest could mean someone hurt or murdered. At least this way they have a chance to avoid that fate.
At a gala attempting to convince members of the Natural History Museum to fund his “scientific” expedition in the Amazon, Perseus is startled to find a familiar face in the crowd. Elizabeth is at the party since she helped finance the expedition which is currently being celebrated, and the two pick up where they left off. Perseus tells her the story he concocted for someone else entirely, and Elizabeth manages to talk one of the professors at the gala into helping fund the expedition. All seems well, right?
Not quite. Elizabeth wants to join the adventure.
Perseus is, naturally, not happy with this and tries to talk her out of it. The manuscript is incomplete, but it does mention perils beyond mortal ken before it cuts off. There is also the little matter of someone threatening to kill him to get it. He can’t tell her the story he used to propose the trip to the Amazon is a lie right now, though. Not after they have just met following years of separation and she convinced someone to pay for the venture. If he tells her the truth it will mean no money for the expedition.
So Perseus swallows his worries and accepts that Elizabeth is coming along, whether he likes it or not. And oh, he really comes to regret that decision later on…
Perseus Corbett and the Forbidden Valley is a great adventure story. It feels like an Indiana Jones adventure – one where he is hired to find King Kong and ends up in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World. Pure adventure novel with a dash of science fiction and fantasy, the novel will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow Perseus, Elizabeth, Martin, and their friends on this wild ride!
For those worrying (in our present world, rightly) that Elizabeth and Perseus’ relationship ends up being a sniping contest after she inevitably learns he lied to her, you need not fear that they both completely lose their senses and behave like bratty school children. They behave like adults throughout – hurt, uncomfortable, and rightly angry adults, but adults nonetheless. Things smooth out between them relatively quickly, too, without being so quick as to be unbelievable. It all flows logically and makes a great deal of sense, with no lessening of tension or characterization in the process.
As I said, the hero and heroine are adults. Adults making their way into the dark depths of the Amazon. Childish temper tantrums are a good way to get killed in such a situation – and that’s before you factor in potential old gods from the forgotten past! So there is no unnecessary drama between leading man and lady when the action picks up, only cooperation and understanding.
That does not mean that matters are hunky-dory between them immediately, of course, but it is certainly a refreshing change from the norm. Hollywood could learn (and relearn) a fair number of tricks reading Perseus Corbett and the Forbidden Valley. It flows like the great adventure films of old, as evidenced by the comparison to Indiana Jones and King Kong. I did not pick those movies out of a hat, readers!
If you like adventure fiction and want a new book to sink your teeth into, pick up Perseus Corbett and the Forbidden Valley today. This is a book you will not regret having on your shelf or your Kindle*, as it has all the wonder and thrills of older adventures in a new package. Don’t wait to explore the Forbidden Valley yourselves, and be sure to share it with other interested parties. 😉
*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through them, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer.
If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth. She has also had stories published in the Planetary Anthology Series. Another story was released in Cirsova Magazine’s Summer Issue in 2020, and she had a story published in Storyhack Magazine’s 7th Issue, Cirsova Magazine’s 2021 Summer Issue, and another may be read over at Ember Journal. Her first anthology – The Guardian Cycle – is available in paperback and ebook as well. Order them today!
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5 thoughts on “Review: Perseus Corbett and the Forbidden Valley by David Breitenbeck”
Thanks for the review! Glad you liked it 😀
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You’re welcome. Thanks for writing it and giving me the chance to beta read it! 😀
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Indiana Jones with a personal bodyguard who I can’t decide if he’s supposed to be “Alfred in a universe where it’s Alfred who’s the martial artist” or “non-womanizing, old-world-nobility-serving version of James Bond”. And they have a princess to rescue, sort of, except the princess does her share of rescuing at one point or another too (and without undercutting them as in the average modern tale). But yeah, I loved the mashup of classic adventure stories and archetypes: the result is somehow familiar and fresh at the same time, owing to both the particular combination and the author’s personal presentation.
I actually really appreciated the payoff of the heroes’ reconciliation in the course of the final action. It’s a direct callback to the scene where they met again, but not so much to his false story as to the incorrect assumptions he made about her at the time – and how they tied into his original intentions. Not only did it nicely resolve the conflict between them around his temporary dishonesty (a product of his life of intrigue, but not ill intended or meant for her); it went farther and put a new spin on, thereby resolving, the conflict/motivation for his character in the first place. That was very well plotted!
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